106

Ramblin' Thomas: Hard Dallas

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
True to his ascribed moniker Ramblin’ Thomas was prone to riding the rails and wandering the back roads of rural America. At various points during his peregrinations he let the dust behind his feet settled long enough in urban areas to record the lasting sides gathered on this recent Catfish compilation. Unfortunately as fate would have it the recording contract he eventually secured was with Paramount (through a friendship with Blind Lemon Jefferson). Paramount’s recording practices and materials were the most miserly among the big three ‘race record’ labels (Columbia, Okeh were the others). As a result, while the sides survive, the surface noise resulting from the cheap materials on which they were cut survives as well.

Though Thomas’ birthplace was in Louisiana both his style of picking and prosaic vocal deliveries were usually associated with the blues culture of the Deep Ellum community of Dallas, one of his later haunts. The subjects of his songs center on the usual gallery of shady characters and virtue-eroding vices sung in Texas vernacular and framed with nimble fingered strums. A disarming slide technique also crops on occasion dipping into the harmonic cracks between familiar chords and floating amidst the static. Thomas’ signature anthem “Ramblin’ Mind Blues” serves as a startling indication of his ability to belt out the lyrics to the point of overpowering the primitive recording mics which squeak and whistle under the stress.

Also contained in the program are several sides by Thomas’ younger brother Jesse, better known to his female admirers as “Baby Face.” Jesse’s fretwork is markedly different from his sibling and he completely eschews slide in favor of cleanly picked runs. A nasalized croon and lyrical dexterity show up his other trademarks and the final four tracks, which serve as representation of his art, are painfully brief in duration. Thomas and his brother may be a minor blues figures by many estimations, but carefully listening to the scant discographies of each man suggests that a possible reassessment of their powers is in order.

Catfish on the web: www.catfishrecords.co.uk


Track Listing: So Lonesome/ Hard To Rule Woman Blues/ Lock And Key Blues/ Sawmill Moan/ No Baby Blues/ Ramblin

Personnel: Ramblin

| Record Label: Catfish Records (UK) | Style: Blues


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Strunkin'" CD/LP/Track Review Strunkin'
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations" CD/LP/Track Review Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations
by John Sharpe
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Steam In The Casa" CD/LP/Track Review Steam In The Casa
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!